Graham Alexander expressed his disappointment at exiting the FA Youth Cup at the first hurdle, following his side’s penalty kick knock out against Gateshead on Wednesday night.
The former North End stalwart couldn’t hide his upset at the result and the fact his side fail to take their chances to progress on the night.
Speaking to PNE.Com, he said: “We are all disappointed, it was a game that we controlled for large periods and we should have won the game.
“We have created opportunities and chances throughout, we minimised Gateshead opportunities, but we ended drawing the game 1-1 after 120 minutes.
“Football can be a brutal game, if you don't convert your chances then you leave yourself open to losing games and unfortunately we lost on penalties. On reflection I don't think the game should have gone that far and we only have ourselves to blame, it is not through luck or refereeing decisions. We lost the game because we didn't take any opportunities that we created and conceded a very poor goal for the equaliser.
“When we walked in at half-time we were 1-0 up and in complete control of the game and possession. We were defensively strong throughout the team, but we didn't keep up the same mentality in the second half when we had the ball and the game completely changed.
“On reflection, it was a game in which I was very disappointed in our ball retention in the second half and if we mirrored the first half we would have been comfortable winners, but we didn't.
“Ultimately we paid the price and overall it was a game that we lost rather than a game the opposition won.”
After the game the level-headed head of youth spoke to his players, who themselves were devastated at the loss, and started the job of picking them up and preparing them – particularly the second years – for what is now a vital few months.
“I explained to the lads after the game that you are going to have setbacks in matches and throughout the season, but it is how you respond that counts,” he continued. “If you concede a goal in a game it is how you respond to that, if it bursts your bubble and stops the things you are good at then you are not going to get the results that you want because there are going to be setbacks in every game.
“It is never going to be 90 minutes of everything going your way, but you can't let it affect you.
“How poor Gateshead's goal was last night slightly affected our mentality and how we went about playing the rest of the game and you have to get over conceding straight away and carry on the things you do well.
“It is a learning process for me and the players that we have because they are young and they are at the start of their careers so we have to take on the lessons. However it is important that you do take those lessons on because you can't keep on making the same mistakes because you get into bad habits and ultimately you won't be successful.
“We will debrief now like we always do after every game, watch the video and look at the things we could have done better and what we did well and take those into our forthcoming games.
“We wanted to do well in the cup, everybody did but that is over now for the season and that is a massive disappointment that we fell at the first hurdle because it is a game we should have won and we didn't, but we have to respond now,” he added.